It can be a challenge to understand English grammar, and it’s not just learners that struggle. For the majority of native English speakers, grammar is difficult and often thought of as redundant. When we learn our material language we do it through listening and repeating. We do not question the why. So where does grammar come into the equation?

Grammar is Complicated

The first problem is trying to apply rules to your mother tongue. It can be hard to work backwards and apply something that isn’t natural to something learnt naturally. And why is it so complicated? Mark Twain came up with a plan for the improvement of English spelling and simplifying the alphabet in the late nineteenth century.

Another problem is that language is constantly changing but the rules stay the same. Language continues to evolve, and in theory, the rules should change to reflect this, but they don’t. Now, if something is grammatically incorrect, we still understand the meaning. Txt msgs are a prime example of how the way we communicate is changing. 

We Need Structure

On the other hand, it’s obvious that we require a good level of grammatical knowledge to write fluently and accurately. Otherwise, how would we be able to structure words, sentences, clauses and text? Without it, this article would be incoherent.

One thing is for sure, without grammar, learning a second language is difficult. It might go part of the way to explaining why native English speakers struggle to learn a second language. In an ever-increasing global society, the importance of other languages is becoming more and more apparent. Therefore, grammar remains a vital part of the learning process.

Language learners know that grammar is tedious. Nowadays, however, there are more natural ways to teach English grammar. These include inductive and deductive teaching, along with interactive methods that use games to make the process more fun.

Still, it’s hard to get away from the classic grammar book. You’ll see language learners all over the world trying to understand the complexities of language with their heads buried in one. A good grammar book is also a useful companion for teachers and English native speakers.

Having the grammar basics will help you to improve your sentence structure and enable you to communicate correctly and more effectively.

There are many popular paid grammar books like English Grammar in Use by Cambridge University Press, which provides a comprehensive overview with concise examples. However, there are also numerous free grammar books available in the public domain. Most are old, but that doesn’t mean that they are out of date. On the contrary. These books contain relevant explanations and are an excellent reference guide for all. So whether you’re studying, lesson planning, or just interested in gaining further insight into the never-ending rules and nuances of the English language, here are ten free grammar books to help you on your way:

Free English Grammar Books

An English Grammar – James Witt Sewell, William Malone Baskerville

The descriptive nature of the grammar points in An English Grammar makes it easy to understand. It is a good reference book for those interested in more traditional methods of learning.

English Grammar and Composition – George Armstrong

english grammar and composition

For those looking for grammar lessons, then this 1923 grammar book could be the one for you. Test your knowledge as you progress through the book by completing the exercises. There are lots of examples and clear explanations of grammar rules.

The Grammar of English Grammars – Goold Brown

The grammar of English grammars

This book is not the easiest to read however, it is a masterpiece of its time. Written in 1851, Brown managed to sum up grammatical usage in a few thousand pages, which is a great achievement in itself. Before attempting to read this it is recommended you already know your English grammar to a high level. Enjoyable for grammar buffs!

An Advanced English Grammar with Exercises – Frank Edgar Farley

An advanced English grammar

A solid 3 part guide for English learners with exercises to help with understanding. Part one focuses on parts of speech, part two on inflection and syntax, and the final part on the analysis of sentences. You will find corresponding exercises at the back of the book.

Word Study and English Grammar – Frederick W. Hamilton

Word study and English grammar

This relative short guide of words is sure to boost your vocabulary and usage. It contains clear and precise explanations of parts of speech. What more,  it has common errors in the usage of words, a table of irregular verbs, and review questions at the end.

Higher lessons in English – Brained Kellogg, Alonzo Reed

HIgher lessons in English

As the title suggests, this book concentrates on high-level grammar. It’s not the easiest to understand but contains some useful exercises. Written in the late 19th century, this book is still relevant today and serves as a good refresher for native English speakers as well as high-level learners.

Lectures on Language – William Stevens Balch

Lectures on Language

With this 19th century book, Balch tried to change the way we learned language…

“The humble attempt here made is designed to open the way for an exposition of language on truly philosophical principles, which, when correctly explained, are abundantly simple and extensively useful. With what success this point has been labored the reader will determine.”

  • – William Stevens Balch

An Elementary English Grammar: One Hundred Practical lessons – Brainerd Kellogg, Alonzo Reed

An elementary English grammar

This is a fantastic resource for English teachers. If you’re looking for inspiration and ideas to commence lessons or how to explain a point clearly, then this will help. it contains useful concept check questions and is the perfect companion for anyone teaching English grammar.

A Grammar of the English Tongue – Samuel Johnson

Grammar of the English tongue

As an English writer, Johnson has contributed immensely to English literature and language. A poet, critic and editor in his time, Johnson’s Dictionary was considered to be the best British dictionary prior to Oxfords English. A short read for understanding the roots of the English language. It might take a while to become accustomed to the old style of writing.

The Comic Latin Grammar – Percival Leigh

By modern standards, some of the humorous content in this book leaves a lot to be desired. It contains snobbish views of social classes, vulgar language and American phrases. However, this basic grammar book is a break from the traditional presentation of language.

For more English learning tips see our other popular English learners posts, and you can discover free audiobooks and ebooks in English on our main site.